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Cue Taylor Swift. But seriously, hi!! It’s been a while. Last time you heard from me was in July, and I was announcing that I needed to take a step back from the community. Thank you to everyone who reached out to me during that time and shared what In Her Circle meant to you. I knew that my heart needed some space to figure out what was next in my journey, and whether or not that included In Her Circle.

The main question that I’ve been asked when I made my announcement is WHY? Why did you step away, Jessica? What’s wrong? Are you okay? I appreciated the sentiment behind the questions, but at that moment, I was not ready to share. However, I feel ready to share now.


When I started In Her Circle three years ago, I was responding to a need that I saw that was continuing to pop up for women - that we desperately needed community with one another, but doing that as adults is hard. I clumsily made my way when I moved here, but I wanted to create a space where it would be easier to build those friendships and that soul sister community.

In many ways, it was a success! I’ve witnessed countless friendships sprout from this community, and it has been beautiful to watch. I felt happy. I felt full. I had big, exciting plans. And then, I became a mom. Overnight, the thing that I said wouldn’t change me did. Overnight, all of my priorities shifted. Overnight, I found myself needing my own community, and I felt completely alone.

Of course, people came by and dropped off gifts the first few weeks and sent congratulatory text messages. But as the sleepless nights pressed on, the community that I thought I had began to disappear. I remember staring at my beautiful baby with tears in my eyes as I held my phone. Who should I call? Will anyone answer? Does anyone care that I’m struggling?

I began to feel like a fraud. How can I build a community for so many other women but not have one of my own? I pushed those feelings aside, pressed forward, and created new programs and offerings because I didn’t want In Her Circle to stop. And a part of me hoped that maybe what I was creating for other people would also help me. I continued to see success from our gatherings, but I also began to feel something unpleasant…bitterness.


As soon as I identified the feeling, it felt all consuming. I grew tired of looking at messages where people praised me and thanked me for their girl gang. Where was mine? Why was I alone? I knew that I could no longer authentically run this community without doing some soul searching and reevaluating how I was running my life.


That’s when I decided to make my announcement. I knew that if I continued to press forward, you would start to feel the bitterness that was growing inside of me. And that’s not what this community is about. I realized that after nearly 3 years of running this community, I had put myself last and forgot to build my own circle.


Giving myself this space over the last 6 months has been such a gift. I needed to temporarily release In Her Circle so that I could just be me. Not the leader, the mentor, the guide. But just your friend, Jess. I read books that helped me identify certain triggers around relationships. I worked with mentors that helped reflect back the other side of the story - helped me see where I may have actually been repelling friendships (caused by my deeply rooted mother wound). I identified the friends who were actually there for me, even if I had been blind to it for a bit. And I intentionally started pursuing them, connecting with them, and putting into practice all of the friendship tips that I’ve taught to many of you.


And now I’m here, saying hello after quite some time. I appreciate the grace so many of you extended to me, and I hope that you continue to extend to me as I’m only human.


I am excited to bring back In Her Circle in the new year. It will be very different than it was before. I’m hoping it will be a better different? Fewer events and gatherings, but when we do, it will be magical, beautiful and soulful. Talk soon!

If you love heart-centered entrepreneurs who are passionate about community building and giving back, you have to check out this week's #wingwoman, Alice Lam! Alice is the creator of Volly, a website dedicated to help volunteers connect with non-profits in need. She also runs a store, Tigerstedt Flea Pop-Up Market, in Crescent Heights, and she has been a driving force for good and unity in our city of Calgary. In our interview, Alice shares how she loves seeing people find their own community, how she believes that building successful friendships take time and should not be rushed, and how the customers and female entrepreneurs at her store are her heroes. Continue reading to learn all about Alice!

1. What makes you happy?


Helping people find their passion project. Seeing people find their community.


2. What advice would you give your younger self?


Don't worry so much about what other people think of you! Don't try to conform, just be you!

3. If you could magically solve one problem in the world, what would that be?


Affordable Housing. Everyone deserves to have a roof over their heads while not paying 100% of their income.


4. How did you find your purpose?


Through trial and error! I just realized I had unlimited energy when it came to community building initiatives.


5. What is your biggest pain point in building relationships?


Well during covid it is the ability to build in person relationships! But in general, I would say giving adequate time. We live in such a rushed society. We don't often give space to forming relationships organically.


6. What have you learned from past friendships that didn't work out?


That it's ok and relationships come and go. Just because it isn't working out now, doesn't mean it won't in 10-20 years. You never know what can happen. I have seen this through my dad's relationships. As annoyed as he may be with some people, he never fully walks away from the friendship. Some people always come back around. Give people the time to grow and find themselves.


7. Who are your SHEros (AKA female heroes)?


Honestly the customers of our store. They boldly call out inequity and also make conscious effort to change bias and racism. The female entrepreneurs I have met that have done so much to stick up for one another is so inspiring. I also love all the young entrepreneurs I have met that are looking at business models with a social element. I respect that so much!


8. What podcasts/books are you listening/reading right now?


I am so bad for reading/ podcast listening but if I have time, I choose Heather Macmahan, she is hilarious, or the China History Podcast (I am obsessed with history and it helps me with my Chinatown tours), or "how I built this" - a great story for people who want to take the leap and need some inspiration to start that dream project. They talk candidly about failures which I appreciate. There really is no such thing as an overnight success.


9. Where can we find you?


For my day job Certusdevelopments.com / for volunteering @vollyapp / for our shop @tigerstedtflea

Wine, not - we've got another #wingwoman of the week, meet Nicole MacKay! Nicole is a wine writer, consultant, and a marketing specialist. She's a Spanish Wine Scholar and holds a Level 3 Certification from the Wine & Spirit Educational Trust. When she's not busy sipping and writing about wine, she is spending time with her 5-year-old twins. In our interview, Nicole shares how being present plays a big role in her day to day happiness, how she believes nurturing our family relationships is just as important as nurturing our friendships, and how it's important to appreciate the journey of becoming, as that's where all of our growth happens. Continue reading to learn all about Nicole!


1. What makes you happy?


Progress and my children. I realized a long time ago that I seek encouragement - simple things like a pat on the back or an ‘atto-girl’. But being a self-employed freelance writer, those moments are rare. So, I’ve taken to looking at a reply to an email as positivity. Or an approved pitch from a publication, which is huge! Without appreciating those moments, I would dwell on what else I could be doing to keep the wheel turning. And if I’m dwelling, then I’m not entirely present when it’s time to focus on my children. Being engaged with my children and knowing that I’m putting my focus into being a mom when it’s most important, and not thinking about work or ‘what-ifs’ is when I’m most happy and at peace.


2. What advice would you give your younger self?


To appreciate the journey. The end goal is instilled in us from a very early age when we get asked ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’. It’s assuming that when you’ve reached a goal, you’ll be happy. But the journey to becoming whatever it is you want to be, is where we learn and grow and become who we are.

3. If you could magically solve one problem in the world, what would that be?


The relationship between government and our food industries. I’m no expert, but it seems pretty blatant that politicians are making money from the meat, dairy and fishing industries so that unethical and inhumane practices can continue. If that money was used for good, world hunger and water scarcity would not exist.


4. How did you find your purpose?


I’m still finding it! My goal was to always be a stay-at-home mom (which I am, to 5-year-old twins). But I’ve discovered that I need something for myself as well. For the past 5 years, I’ve used my wine industry experience and passion for writing to facilitate an income that provides freedom and flexibility for me to be there for my kids when they need me. Will I do this forever? Who knows! But it’s a purpose for right now, which is all I can ask for.


5. What is your biggest pain point in building relationships?


Insecurity. The ability to sell myself or my work has always been challenging. It’s something I continually struggle with.


6. What have you learned from past friendships that didn't work out?


I’ve had a lot of friendships just fizzle out, which I think is pretty normal. I’ve struggled with identifying the reason, but in the end, all friendships ebb and flow, grow or disappear. As long as I’m happy with my role and actions, then it’s ok to close the book on that friendship and move on. I’ve also learned that it’s equally as important to focus on family. Our sisters, cousins, and nieces are the people we have in our lives the longest. It’s important to nourish those relationships just as much as our friendships.


7. Who are your SHEros (AKA female heroes)?


My mom - hands down. She’s shown me strength and vulnerability. She’s also shown me when it’s ok to shine but also when it’s time to sit back and support those who need it.


8. What podcasts/books are you listening/reading right now?


The Four Winds is next on my to-read list for my book club. But Circe is the last book I read that I’d recommend. It was weird and unusual, but so beautifully written. I don’t have a ton of time for podcasts, but if I do turn one on, it’s usually Anna Faris’ Unqualified. She’s funny and human and has some pretty epic guests.


9. Where can we find you?


On Instagram @socialsips or my website, www.socialsips.ca

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